After briefly mentioning the robotaxi project during the Cyber Rodeo event at Giga Texas earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared some interesting updates on it.
On 7 April, he announced that Tesla was going to build a new standalone electric vehicle designed as a "dedicated robotaxi," adding that it would look "quite futuristic." During the Q1 earnings call on 20 April, Musk talked some more about the robotaxi, saying that it won't have a steering wheel or pedals when volume production starts sometime in 2024.
"We're also working on a new vehicle that I alluded to at the Giga Texas opening, which is a dedicated robotaxi that's highly optimized for autonomy, meaning it would not have a steering wheel or pedals. And there are a number of other innovations around it that I think are quite exciting."
The CEO added that the robotaxi would use Tesla's Full Self-Driving Software, which recently expanded to 100,000 beta users, with more to be added this year.
Musk expects the robotaxi to grow Tesla's business by a significant amount, although he refrained from providing details. The chief executive said there would likely be a product unveiling event next year and Tesla will offer more details then.
"I think that really will be a massive driver of Tesla growth (...) We don't want to jump the gun on an exciting product announcement yet."
He did share one more tidbit of information regarding the cost of a future Tesla robotaxi ride: less than a subsidised public bus or subway ticket.
"It's trying to achieve the lowest—fully considered—cost per mile, cost per kilometre, you know, accounting everything. I think it will be a very powerful product."
The Tesla robotaxi project was first mentioned in Elon Musk's Master Plan Part Deux, published in 2016. At the time, the Tesla CEO suggested that the robotaxis would be regular Teslas with full self-driving capability. Now, however, Tesla has moved to developing a dedicated vehicle for its robotaxi service. Musk's statements clearly show that Tesla will use a newly designed vehicle for the role.
You can listen to the full Tesla Q1 2022 Financial Results and Q&A Webcast at the top of this page.